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Eureka!: Small Wonders

Stripping Away the Suds

Photo: Jonathan Lovell

Photo: Jonathan Lovell 

By Charlotte Hsu

These tiny globules are drug particles floating in solution. The image comes from the lab of UB biomedical engineer Jonathan Lovell, who’s developing a technique for stripping soapy additives called surfactants from injectable drugs. These substances, necessary for dissolving medicine into a solution, stick around in the liquid and can cause serious allergic reactions in patients. To filter them out, Lovell’s team lowered the temperature of 12 drugs, including testosterone and an anti-cancer medication, to 4 degrees Celsius. This allowed the surfactants to be removed with a membrane, resulting in injectable drugs that are closer to pure than other formulations previously developed, Lovell says.